US Congress blocks NSA reform over terrorism fears

An act that would have placed restrictions on the methods the NSA uses to conduct surveillance has failed to pass in the US senate.

The USA Freedom Act would have stopped the NSA from collecting phone records, instead phone call metadata – such as time of call and duration – would be placed into the hands of the telecoms companies.

Organisations including Facebook, the National Rifle Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union have previously endorsed the bill, indicating the diverse support behind the motion.

Although those in favour won by 58 “yes” votes to 42 “no” votes, it fell two short of being a clear majority, meaning the bill will not move forward for consideration.

Opposition to the Freedom Act came from Republicans, arguing that passing it would give significant advantages to enemies of the US, including Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

“God forbid that we wake up tomorrow to the news that a member of ISIS is in the United States,” said Senator Marco Rubio, according to the Huffington Post. “That would be a horrifying result.”

With it failing to gain a majority, the bill is dead for a year. It will likely be debated again, however, when the US Congress decides to renew the NSA-enabling Patriot Act in January 2015.

Senator Ron Wyden saw the positives in the motion, stating that it showed that the Senate was ready for debate on intelligence reform:

“Although I’m disappointed that debate won’t happen this week, those who value civil liberties and the US Constitution will not rest until there is true reform that ends this unnecessary overreach,” he added.